Conni Crittenden is always looking for ways to make her 4th grade class more interesting. But if she wants supplies for a new lesson or activity, that money has to come out of her own pocket.
"When you've got 25 kids you need a lot of whatever it is that you're making," said Crittenden who's been teaching in Williamston Public Schools for over 40 years.
With school districts facing tighter budgets, Crittenden got $300 to spend on her class this year. That translates to $12 per student.
"That's just for all of your supplies, any extra things you want to order, any art supplies, any science equipment, any books," Crittenden added.
That money only goes so far, which is why Crittenden finds herself pulling out her wallet more often. She's not alone, according to the Michigan Education Association (MEA) the average teacher spends $650 on supplies each year. Some of that goes towards purchasing basic supplies, once covered by the budget.
"We're looking at simple things the papers the pencils the coloring crayons," said Vice President of the MEA Nancy Strachan.
A survey by the National School Supply and Equipment Association found that teachers paying for 77 percent of their supplies.
They're buying more than just the basics, teachers are the main source of funding for classroom projects.
"When they do science experiments, especially in the high school, they're buying the chemicals, they're buying all the equipment that would be appropriate to have these experiments in the classroom," Strachan said referring to what teachers spend on.
Parents help with some supplies but that only covers so much, leaving teachers trying to stretch ever dollar until June.
"I also purchase things because I know that it is going to make my teaching better, but also it makes my life easier if I have certain things that I know that I can use with my class," Crittenden said.